Tribunal fees - A case revolution?

18th August 2017

As reported in our recent HR e flash, the Supreme Court has ruled that tribunal fees are unlawful, representing a barrier to justice. Following this decision and in the recent case of Dhami v Tesco Stores, a claimant has successfully argued that her time to bring a claim should be extended in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In Dhami, the claimant previously brought claims for both disability and age discrimination against Tesco. At the time of bringing the claim, the employee sought assistance with her Tribunal fees but this assistance was refused. The claimant then failed to pay the Tribunal issue fee. Upon becoming aware of this, the claimant was out of time to bring a claim.

The claimant subsequently brought an application to the Tribunal to have the time limit extended on the basis that it would be just and equitable to do so. The Employment Judge allowed the application and commented that the facts did have a part to play in this decision. The particular facts were that Tesco were confused as to the employee’s effective date of termination and in addition, the claimant’s personal circumstances justified an extension. The Judge importantly commented that the claimant had tried to bring a claim and had this opportunity denied due to the unlawful Tribunal fees.

Employer Considerations

Dhami represents the Tribunal’s clear willingness to consider the unlawfulness of Tribunal fees and how these fees have contributed to cases being presented out of time. In this case, the claimant brought the claim in a prompt manner but was defeated by an inability to pay what are now deemed as unlawful fees. The ruling of the Supreme Court in relation to the unlawfulness of tribunal fees has clearly raised many questions from a practical standpoint. The decision of the Tribunal in Dhami suggests that Tribunal’s will be willing to allow claimants to bring claims where they previously had the opportunity denied due to the unlawful tribunal fees.


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